4 tips to maximize content marketing performance

Many SEOs are turning to content marketing to replace or supplement their link-building efforts, but consumers think most of this content is clutter. How do you stand out? Columnist David Freeman has some advice.

Please visit Marketing Land for the full article.
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SEO & website design: Everything you need to know

SEO is important to any business that operates online, but many don't realize that search engine optimization needs to be built into the web design process -- not added in later. Here, columnist Marcus Miller has provided a comprehensive guide to SEO and web design.

Please visit Marketing Land for the full article.
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Is Ripoff Report subverting Google take-downs?

Previously de-indexed Ripoff Report pages are reappearing and ranking prominently again in Google. Columnist Chris Silver Smith takes a close look at how the site is eluding Google’s page removal processes and how defamation victims — and Google — can fight back.

Please visit Marketing Land for the full article.
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The Right Approach To Building A Solid Growth Strategy

Ask any successful entrepreneur why their startup succeeded and they’ll almost always point you to a growth strategy they followed.

They’ll tell you how much they believed the strategy will work because it was solid and had a really high likelihood of paying off.

For example, Johnathan Dane (founder at KlientBoost, a company that grew from 0 to $1,000,000 in 12 months) says “You may be obsessed with tactics, but you should care more about solid strategies…nothing beats winning slowly and surely by turning silent visitors into repeat visiting fans…”

It’s the same with most high growth companies.

They pick a solid growth strategy and follow it. Then they begin to get small wins. And they repeat the process. Before you know it, they’re all over the place.

However, before you would even get the chance to use a solid strategy, your product and site has to be ready for conversions.

Get Your Product in Demand and Site Ready for Conversions

This may come across as a no-brainer.

But you’d be surprised at how many businesses fail only because their product wasn’t in demand, or lose revenue because their site just wasn’t ready for conversions.

Just recently, CB Insights reached out to investors and founders to collect post-mortems on 204 failed startups. From their findings, they were able to pinpoint 20 top reasons for these failures.

Guess what turned out to be number 1 on the list? There was no market need for the product.

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Serial entrepreneur and VC David Skok says “A major reason why companies fail, is that they run into the problem of there being too little or no market for the product that they have built.”

When a product is not in demand, it’s because it didn’t solve a problem enough people had. This makes it impossible to achieve growth, which is why building something people want is the necessary first step towards growth.

In the same vein, a site that is not ready for conversions can also thwart the success of any strategy. This is when the site is having issues on things like signup processes, pricing, web copy, CTAs, etc. These things easily get users annoyed, make them leave the moment they get on your site and never return.

For instance, Rebecca Kelley, content marketing manager for Intego, recently shared how her company was getting decent click-through rates from a PPC campaign.

But after tracking (via their analytics program) those who actually made a purchase, they found that far less than 1% of visitors from all that traffic were actually buying their products. Why? Their payment sign-up process was awful. Kelley says, “…it was a no-brainer–our signup process is awful. We lose a lot of people in that process…”

Their product was in demand, and we know this because people actually clicked through their ads and made attempts to convert. The only problem was that Intego’s site wasn’t ready for the conversions because of their self-described “awful” signup process.

Key takeaway: In Intego’s case, they had a faulty signup process. For you, it could be something else entirely. You need to anticipate every issue that may arise from your site (or offerings) and get them settled before you decide to build and follow a strategy. You can do this by using a Funnel Report to see where people are dropping off and finding what you need to test. You can also use a Funnel Report for your onboarding.

Here are few things you should be looking out for:

  • Site speed and responsive design: We’ve seen enough stats and surveys over the years proving that poor site speed annoy most visitors. Make sure your site loads quickly and works on mobile. Use Google’s speed test and mobile tools to make sure you have your bases covered.
  • Messaging: Your copy, from homepages to other pages, matters a lot. If your messaging is not intact, people will have a hard time seeing your offerings as their solution. Kissmetrics has a lot of resources on copywriting. Take your pick from the hundreds of articles.
  • Social proof: If you’re a startup, it may be difficult for some visitors to hand over their information (let alone credit card number) if they don’t see others haven’t done it first. This is why it’s so crucial to get social proof and testimonials on your site. A site without these critical elements can be getting lots of traffic with little to no conversions if there is no proof that their products really solve problems for people similar to those visiting the site.
  • Design: Good design with clean copy shows to visitors that you care about your craft and likely have a solid product waiting for them after they signup. Focus on getting your design right before launching. If you’re looking for a simple way to get started, check out Launchrock. Quality templates are always a safe bet if you (or anyone on your team) are not design-inclined.
  • The issues you cannot anticipate: This is the the tricky part. There are some things you cannot foresee becoming an issue. This is why it’s important to have a feedback loop in place so you can gather this information and then react quickly to solve any issues that arise.

Bottom line: No matter how solid a strategy is, it will eventually flop if it’s selling a product that nobody wants, or if the marketing site doesn’t convert.

Building Your Strategy: Aim for Small Wins

Once you get your product right and your site ready for conversions, next thing to do is target small wins.

After all, virtually no one hits it big at once.

And by now, most marketers know this already. Every high growth company you see created a strategy that had a high likelihood for success and followed it till they hit their breakthroughs.

This strategy is usually filled up with subsets of tactics that bring in results gradually, little by little. And then in the long run, those small pieces of results come together to become a big bang. To those not watching the company day-to-day, it may seem like they were an “overnight success”. But few of those companies that truly achieve the “overnight success” tend to fade quickly.

In contrast, the companies that seem like overnight successes actually had small, incremental wins that led them to their success. They achieved their first major customer, got on the frontpage of inbound.org, were featured in the press, etc. Every successful company had their small wins that contributed in making them what they are today.

Buffer, for example, is one of these companies. They had their strategy, which was to write guest posts and get users from the blogs they write for. Now they’ve reached a stage today where they’re used by thousands of users and companies.

But a whole lot of those guest posts were the small wins that led them to where they are today. Leo Widrich (Buffer’s co-founder) says he had to write about 150 guest posts within the space of 9 months before they got their first 100,000 customers.

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Each of those 150 guest post were small wins that led to their big win — 100,000 users.

That’s how high-growth companies grow.

They accumulate a good number of small wins and end up with a bang. They go from 500 users to 1000, 3000, 6000 and so forth.

Another example that comes to mind here is Groove. Back in 2013, Groove rolled out a series to share their journey to $100k in monthly revenue with their blog readers. Their plan was to get lots of subscribers via this series and ultimately grow as a business.

The strategy worked. Today, Groove has thousands of paying customers and is now close to $500k in monthly revenue.

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But here’s the thing (again), they understood they wouldn’t get to where they desired at once.

So they targeted small wins:

  • They built relationships with more than 80 influencers– even before launching the series.
  • Got a spot on the front page on Hacker News.
  • Started to get their stories featured on well-known publications.
  • And so forth…

Small wins. Accumulate them well enough and you’ll have an aggregate big win in the long run.

Even more, small wins are the best productivity boosters for business people. According to a study by Harvard Business Review: “Through exhaustive analysis of diaries kept by knowledge workers, we discovered the progress principle: Of all the things that can boost emotions, motivation, and perceptions during a workday, the single most important is making progress in meaningful work.”

The more you achieve small wins, the more motivated you get to do more — because it just means you’re heading in the right direction.

What Happens When Your Strategy Goes South?

Your strategy, no-matter how solid it looks, can fail. Experienced marketers know this already. It’s a bitter truth. But it is what it is: the truth. And I had to learn this the hard way.

A few years ago when I started out as a freelance writer, I had a “brilliant strategy” for my freelance business. I saw what other experienced writers were doing but for some reason decided to do something entirely different, thinking I’d get a better result than other writers.

My “brilliant strategy” was to launch a blog about startups. I thought I’d use that to attract founders. And when founders came to my blog and read my content, they can consider hiring me as their writer. After all, startups usually need a lot of content.

Long story short, the plan failed.

Why? Most startup founders don’t oversee the writers that their companies hire. That’s the job of their content/marketing managers. Those are the people my content should target, not founders!

So I was writing content for the wrong set of people. My “brilliant strategy” was a big mistake that wasted a lot of my time and resources. But guess what? I learned…and grew.
It’s pretty much the same case for you. That’s what you should do if your strategy goes south: Learn…and grow.

Summing Up: Get a Solid Growth Strategy

That’s the one secret that virtually every high growth company you see have in common. They get a solid growth strategy, and follow it to success. But again, before the strategy, ensure your offering is in sync with the market. Once that is done, everything else becomes relatively easier. Lastly, if your strategy goes south, simply re-strategize and get a new solid plan.

About the Author: Victor Ijidola is a freelance business writer (for hire) who’s been featured on sites like Inc.com, The Next Web, MarketingProfs, etc. He’s also runs Premium Content Shop.

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First Month Free + No Charge Migration to a Faster WordPress Website

WordPress Made Fast and Easy

It’s been less than three months since we launched StudioPress Sites, our new solution that combines the ease of an all-in-one website builder with the flexible power of WordPress.

The response and feedback have been phenomenal. And the icing on the cake is that we’re already winning accolades.

In an independent speed test performed this month by WebMatros, StudioPress Sites was declared the undisputed winner. We’re thrilled, because we were up against formidable competition from WP Engine, Flywheel, Media Temple, Pressable, and Bluehost.

As you know, speed is important. If a page takes more than a couple of seconds to load, users will instantly hit the back button and move on.

But that’s only part of the story. Because unlike those other hosts, with StudioPress Sites you just sign up and quickly set up, without the usual hassles of self-hosted WordPress.

WordPress made fast and easy

The primary difference between a website builder and self-hosted WordPress is that with the former, you’re dealing with software as a service (SaaS), while the latter is … well, hosting. Not only is self-hosted WordPress a pain to deal with, it can also lead to unexpected surprises if you actually succeed (like your site crashing).

In this sense, StudioPress Sites is more like SaaS than hosting. You can set up your new site in just minutes on our server infrastructure that’s specifically optimized (and now independently tested) for peak WordPress performance.

From there, you simply select from 20 mobile-optimized HTML5 designs. Then, you choose from a library of trusted plugins for the functionality you need — and install them with one click.

Next, you put the included SEO tools to work, like our patented content analysis and optimization software, keyword research, advanced schema control, XML sitemap generation, robots.txt generation, asynchronous JavaScript loading, enhanced Open Graph output, breadcrumb title control, and AMP support.

There’s even more to StudioPress Sites than what I’ve highlighted here, but you can check out all the features at StudioPress.com. Let’s talk about the deal.

First month free, plus free migration

It’s really that simple. When you sign up for StudioPress Sites before 5:00 p.m. Pacific Time on April 28, 2017, you pay nothing for your first month.

On top of that, we’ll move you from your current WordPress site to your brand-new, easy-to-use, and blazingly fast StudioPress Site at no charge.

Why?

Because we know that moving your website can be a pain, even if you’re not happy with your current host. And just as importantly, because we want you to try StudioPress Sites risk free.

Fair enough?

Cool — head over to StudioPress to check it all out and sign up today.

NOTE: You must use that ^^^^ special link to get the deal!

The post First Month Free + No Charge Migration to a Faster WordPress Website appeared first on Copyblogger.

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How 7 Companies are Using Push Notifications to Boost Engagement

Last year, mobile internet usage overtook desktop for the first time. If you’re not tailoring your marketing strategy specifically for mobile users in 2017, you’re losing out.

Mobile internet access has soared in recent years and it’s quickly become entrenched in our culture. 50% of smartphone users grab their smartphone as soon as they wake up, and 80% of all internet users own smartphones.

Google is actively trying to make the internet more friendly for mobile users by penalizing sites that aren’t optimized for mobile devices.

With this rise in mobile internet users and a continual decline in email open rates, you’ve simply got to adopt different communication channels to get their messages heard.

Push Notifications for Businesses

Push notifications represent a great way to communicate with your audience. According to a study by Localytics, 52% of smartphone users have push enabled on their devices, and these notifications can be used to benefit businesses in the following ways:

  • Directing users to your social media channels
  • Promoting products and services (especially special offers)
  • Building trust and brand reputation by delivering valuable content
  • Engaging users who aren’t currently on your site
  • Restoring abandoned carts for ecommerce applications

As legendary entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk once proclaimed: “Marketers ruin everything”.

I’m guessing it’s pretty much inevitable that brands will come to recognize the high engagement rates of push notifications, and then thoroughly overdo the tactic until they annoy their audiences and force them to turn push notifications off.

But until then, keep in mind that someone who’s installed your app will already be more receptive to communication from you – as long as you don’t abuse this trust.

Instead of being overly aggressive and spammy, focus on delivering value to your audience via push notifications in order to build brand reputation for the long-term.

Personalization

Generic mass marketing techniques are dying out. In this age of information, personalization is the key to victory.

In a 2014 marketing survey, 94% of marketing professionals in multiple industries stated that personalization was “important,” “very important,” or “extremely important” for meeting their marketing objectives.

The great thing about push notifications is that you can segment the audiences you’re targeting in a very personalized way.

For instance, a clothing brand may want to send different messages to users based on the types of items that they’ve browsed and purchased in the past. Sending different recommendations to men and women is probably a good idea – and the same applies to customers who have browsed products for young children versus those for adults.

This approach is backed up by data. Of people who open a push notification, 54% of users convert from segmented pushs, compared to only 15% who convert from broadcast messages.

Geo-targeting is another great feature you can use.

If you’re a retail outlet, for example, you may want to send out reminders for time-based promotions to anyone who’s within the immediate area. Bars may want to promote happy hour specials using the same technique.

By including the user’s first name and mentioning what area they’re currently in, you’ll capture their attention far more effectively than a generic message would. Using emoji’s has also been found to increase retention.

When you’re setting up push notifications, I recommend allowing a variety of notification options for your users. If they have control over when and why they get notified, they’ll be more likely to opt-in and stay engaged.

Ultimately, if you can create a high value, personalized experience for your users, they’ll be more likely to engage with your push messages – and think highly of your brand – over time.

Pitfalls to Avoid

As I said earlier, sending generic, batch push notifications should be avoided. Similarly, carefully consider your target demographic so that you don’t send them inappropriate messages.

A while back, for example, the My Pet app received some negative publicity after a 9-year-old girl received offensive notifications, which her mother equated with cyber-bullying.

While the dark-humored notifications may have been appropriate for an older demographic, messages like “You are horrible! You are the worst owner I’ve ever had” weren’t appropriate for young children.

my-pet-push-notifications

Ouch.

Timing is also crucial when sending push notifications.

If you send low-value information to your audience in the middle of the night, you’ll destroy their trust (and upset them in the process). Research suggests that afternoons on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday are the best times to send push messages.

It’s also essential that you sync your push notifications with your other marketing channels. If someone reads your marketing email, only to get a push notification about the same content half an hour later, they’re going to get frustrated.

Finally, remember that if someone opts in to receiving push notifications from you, treat this as a privilege. Always make it easy for them to opt out and don’t spam their phone continuously every day with trivial messages.

7 Case Studies to Review

If you can avoid the common pitfalls of push notifications and deliver high value, personalized content to your audience, the rewards can be great.

Here are some examples of brands effectively using push notifications to boost engagement to inspire you:

1. JetBlue

Like many airlines, JetBlue has adopted push notifications to remind its customers when to check-in.

When flyers check in, they’ll get pleasant reminders exactly 1 day before the flight is scheduled to depart. In-flight status updates in the form of push notifications are also available for customers that select this option.

Key Takeaway: JetBlue offers high value, practical content that helps to improve the flying experience.

This isn’t going to result in any immediate sales, but JetBlue’s efforts cause flyers to think positively about the brand, making them consider the airline the next time they go to book a flight.

Unsurprisingly, in a study on push notifications, opt-in rates were highest in the travel and transportation niche (78%). People really appreciate being reminded about the key details that will improve their journey when they’re traveling.

2. The Bump

Guess what particular topic parents-to-be can’t stop obsessing over? Their unborn child, naturally.

The Bump is an app for first-time moms that delivers status updates about the ongoing development and growth of their child.

Those who sign up receive regular push messages about the size of the baby (typically using fruits as a reference point), as well as things to expect in coming weeks.

Key Takeaway: Push notifications work best when you’re messaging someone about something they really care about. People are far more likely to want status updates about their unborn child than they are spammy sales messages from a store they vaguely remember.

If you’re thinking about using push notifications, first consider what is of most value to your audience. If your planned notifications don’t reflect that value, don’t bother sending them.

3. La Redoute

La Redoute, which specializes in French-style fashion and offers a huge range of products, boasts a turnover of over $1 billion dollars, making it one of the largest ecommerce apparel retailers in the world.

If you’re in the ecommerce space, you know that the problem of abandoned carts (people adding an item to their cart, then leaving the store before finalizing the purchase) is very real.

In order to combat this and retrieve lost customers, La Redoute started a push notification campaign where mobile app users would be contacted if they left the store with an item still in their cart. Each notification is highly personalized and links the user to their cart where they can complete the purchase.

Interestingly, their push notification retargeting clickthrough rate was 2-3 times higher than on classic mobile ads.

Key Takeaway: Push notifications can be an excellent tool for reviving abandoned carts. By personalizing your messages and sending vibrant images of the items that your customers missed out on (for whatever reason), you can dramatically improve your conversion rate.

4. Ticketmaster

In order to deliver relevant offers to its audience, Ticketmaster utilizes geo-targeting and assesses user histories.

By determining what types of events people like attending, Ticketmaster can segment its push notifications and send offers that feel more personalized to its audience – resulting in higher conversion rates.

ticketmaster-push-notification

Key Takeaway: Segmentation is necessary if you have a large audience and want to maximize the impact of your push messages.

5. eXtra

eXtra is Saudi Arabia’s leading consumer electronics retailer and is currently experiencing 100% year-on-year mobile growth, primarily thanks to a push notification campaign that engages its mobile users on a personal basis.

In the past, the company used retargeting emails to re-engage with mobile users, but since switching to push notifications, they experienced a dramatic improvement in sales.

Within six weeks, those who had opted-in to receive push notifications were returning 4X more and often spending twice as much time on the site.

Key Takeaway: When crafted correctly, push messages can be a more intimate form of communication. This re-engages previous customers, builds brand loyalty and improves your long-term profits.

6. Netflix

With a vast sea of user data available to Netflix, the company can craft highly personalized push messages that draw on each customer’s viewing history.

As they’ve found, sending a simple reminder about a series that someone has been watching is an excellent way to improve engagement.

netflix-push-notification-OITNB

Key Takeaway: The more data you have on the ways in which people interact with your brand (particularly their purchasing history), the more you can tailor your push messages to resonate with them.

7. PLNDR

PLNDR is an online streetwear retailer that uses customer-focused push notifications to boost engagement. After determining what types of items its users are engaging with, PLNDR sends specific daily deals that are virtually guaranteed to resonate with their customers.

By including multiple layers of personalization and narrowing down on its user’s interests, PLNDR’s push campaigns have resulted in a 4% purchase rate on mobile (though some of the brand’s push messages have experienced more than a 20% engagement rate).

Just like La Redoute, PLNDR also utilizes retargeting notifications to remind users who have abandoned their carts about the items they’re missing out on.

Key Takeaway: Use your customer data to determine what types of items your audience likes, then send them special deals based on their interests.

Getting Started with Push Notifications

Push notifications are an excellent tool for delivering value to your customers, improving brand loyalty and driving sales. Personalizing your messages based on user data keeps your content relevant and your customers engaged.

Because push notifications are more intimate than other forms of communication, they’re ideal for reopening a channel of communication to previous customers and reminding users when they add an item to their cart but don’t complete the purchase.

Check with your e-commerce provider or marketing tool to see what options are available to you to take advantage of push notifications today.

Can you think of any other tips for making the most of push notifications? Please let me know in the comments below.

About the Author: Aaron Agius, CEO of worldwide digital agency Louder Online is, according to Forbes, among the world’s leading digital marketers. Working with clients such as Salesforce, Coca-Cola, IBM, Intel, and scores of stellar brands, Aaron is a Growth Marketer – a fusion between search, content, social, and PR. Find him on Twitter, LinkedIn, or on the Louder Online blog.

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